Sweet About Me – Civic Theatre – Review
Dates: 15th & 16th November
We meet 18 year old Bernadette as she is being dropped off by her parents at the clinic. She’s not sure what to expect but the staff seem nice. She meets her room mate Leslie who is a little rough around the edges. Leslie is a drug addict who is trying to get clean for the sake of her children. Bernadette or Bernie as she likes to be known has her own demons to face in the form of her eating disorder. We see Bernie as she faces up to some harsh truths over the course of her four weeks at the clinic.
This is a new play written and performed by Jacinta Sheerin. While Jacinta does talk freely about her own eating disorder, this is a work of fiction. Jacinta used her personal knowledge of the topic to add depth to the story.
“It’s a made-up story drawing on my knowledge. I was never in a treatment centre. The message is mostly about mental health and how, when we push down our feelings or we don’t talk to each other, things manifest. The main character is not able to manage her feelings and the only thing she is able to control is her body and food,” – Jacinta Sheerin.
With only a couple of chairs and benches, Jacinta creates the world of Bernie as she meets the various inhabitants of the clinic. There’s Helen, the facilitator of the group therapy sessions she attends along with Alan who is addicted to cocaine, Leslie her room mate and Joyce, an upper class homemaker who is an alcoholic. There are also other family members and staff, and Jacinta creates all these characters, with different accents and traits.
This production was part of the SoloSIRENS Festival at the Civic, which is a festival of “women theatre artists who are writing and performing their own work”. Full details of the festival can be found here.
Jacinta set herself an almost impossible task with so many characters in such a short period of time, but she does remarkably well with the various transitions. Each character feels unique and is easily identifiable. It may have helped to have a second actor on stage at times, as it is extremely difficult for an actor to effectively have a conversation with themselves, but Jacinta is highly impressive in the various roles. The subject matter is dealt with in an intelligent manner and there is a degree of honestly to the production. We see flawed characters that are trying to get their lives back on track for various reasons. With no set and only one actor, it’s a play that could easily run and run. There is talk of the play returning next year, so hopefully you’ll get a chance to see it soon.